We have all heard of dietary fiber or roughage but we might not realise just how important it is to our general health and well being.
Fiber is a substance in plants, and dietary fiber is the part you eat such as in fruits, vegetables and grains. It is the part of the plant that your body can't digest but it forms a very important part of a healthy diet by adding bulk to your diet and making you feel full faster.
That is especially good news for whose wanting to control their weight!
Although fiber has no calories, it still gives you a full feeling because it has has water-absorbing abilities plus those foods high in fiber will often require you to chew more so it takes longer and more effort to eat them.
Dietary fiber comes from the portion of plants that is not digested by enzymes in the intestinal tract. Part of it, however, may be metabolized by bacteria in the lower gut.
Fiber also aids digestion and goes a long way to preventing constipation
The prevention of constipation is a very important factor in our lives as this problem can then lead to other medical problems which can be quite severe. These include hemorrhoids, bleeding hemorrhoids
and anal fissures.
Once you have suffered from such conditions, your body will have a tendency towards the recurrence of hemorrhoids or anal fissures.
So prevention is key here
You can get fiber from whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables. But remember to add fiber to your diet slowly as too much too soon can lead to gas, bloating and cramps.
Recent medical studies have looked at the relationship between high-fiber diets and many diseases, including colon cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes. Apart from the benefits of preventing constipation, certain types of fiber help decrease blood cholesterol levels. Rolled oats and pectin are two fibers that are especially helpful to reduce bad cholesterol.
There are two types of fiber – soluble fiber and insoluble fiber
Pectin and gum are water-soluble fibers found inside plant cells. They slow the passage of food through the intestines but do not increase fecal bulk. Beans, oat bran, fruit and vegetables contain soluble fiber.
Those fibers in cell walls are water insoluble and include cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. These are the fibers that increase fecal bulk and speed up the passage of food through the digestive tract, making stools softer and bulkier. It is this insoluble fiber that is especially helpful in the treatment and prevention of constipation and ultimately hemorrhoids and anal fissures. Wheat bran and whole grains contain the most insoluble fiber with vegetables and beans a close second.
It is interesting to know that even when fruit and vegetables come in cans or frozen packs, they still contain the same amount of fiber as the raw product. It is only if they are dried, crushed, or their seeds, peels or hulls are removed that they lose some of their fiber.
Unfortunately the average American is only consuming 14 grams of dietary fiber each day. This should be more like 35 grams daily.
Take a look at your own intake and see if you seriously need to up your intake. Do it gradually and accompany with plenty of water to drink to reduce any likelihood of gas.
The more natural the food, the better.